One of central Europe’s lesser-known countries steps into the limelight tonight, and a grand role on the world stage. At the stroke of midnight, and the arrival of the New Year, Slovenia will assume the Presidency of the European Union for the next six months. It is a big change of profile for a country once notable because President Bush confused it with Slovakia.
Lying south of Austria and on Italy’s eastern shoulder, Slovenia is one of central Europe’s lesser-known states. It achieved independence from Communist Yugoslavia after a brief war in 1991.
The Brdo congress centre outside the capital Ljubljana was once used by the Yugoslavian dictator Marshall Tito. It will be the focus of Slovenia’s presidency, hosting more than 150 meetings.
Slovenia’s European adventure will cost Ljubljana more than 60 million euros. The agenda will be dominated by energy and climate change, and the integration of the western Balkans into the European Union.